For this week’s creator spotlight, we would like you to meet artist and owner of Mark it with a B Gallery, Brandy Roels!
What was the inspiration behind becoming a creator? What do you enjoy most about the creative process?
I started drawing at age three (always animals) and admired pet portrait artists. What I enjoy the most is being able to share more of myself in my pieces. Not just making pretty pieces but making emotional pieces – expressing my emotions and evoking emotions for the viewer. Along with portraits, I make personal pieces to express my deep emotions or unsolved past trauma. I found it does help heal me and certainly is therapeutic. My creative process is more mellow and slow, versus my fast hatch-marking fur technique I do for pet portraits.
Can you take us through your creative process? How long does it take? Does everything you produce make money?
First, I have to say that not everything I create makes money. Some pieces never get sold. Having a business as an artist is very hard work, and you have to be on top of it all the time with creating and promoting. I run my business full time, and I love what I do! For my creative process, the time varies based on the size and details of the piece. I love working with my hands and touching different materials, so each of my pieces are completely handmade. I start by drawing my designs directly onto the wood with a classic graphite pencil. I like to create what I call a “value map” by lightly sketching groupings of where the highlights and shadows are, so then I have a value structure to follow when filling in the fur. Then I just get to burning! I use a Colwood Detailer burner by Colwood. I also only use the ball point tip for absolutely every piece I make. I am able to do everything with it! Lastly, I add paint elements. Since I was a portrait painter, I love to use various types of paint. I just enjoy the feeling of spreading paint around – especially on smooth wood. I find I end up blending my paint strokes in with my woodburning marks, such as adding short brushstrokes of color in with an animal’s fur. I like everything I use to be water soluble too, so even the oil paint is safe to use with water.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about your line of work?
I would say the biggest misconception in my field is whether a piece is truly handmade. With various creators now using laser engraving machines to burn designs, it has become difficult to find where the line is between being handmade versus machine-made. I am part of a large woodburning community on social media that only use handheld woodburning pens, where the artist is truly handmaking each of their pieces, like putting pen to paper. For laser engraving, it seems the handmade quality is taken out of the equation by having the machine burn for you.
This has certainly always been a debate, but I do see the useful benefits of having a laser engraving machine when you are using your own designs only. Personally, I love using my handheld burner and enjoy creating with my hands.
When did you first become aware of copyright, and why?
Learning about copyright was part of my studies while attending the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). I remember we even had a copyright lawyer visit during one of our classes to discuss various rules and regulations. The professors at SCAD wanted to guarantee we understood the importance of copyright, and everything we made from then on out needed to be our own original artwork. It is fine to be inspired by something or someone else, but you must make it your own – not just copy it.
What do you do when you encounter someone stealing something you have invested your intellect, time and money into?
For starters, I suggest that artists always register their works with the U.S. Copyright Office. When I see someone clearly took my artwork or obviously copied it, I always reach out to them. I have no problem doing so, especially when it comes to defending myself or my art. Most of the time, people will apologize and tag me to give me credit. The furthest it has escalated for me was having to report the person on social media. Not as big of a deal as having to go to court, of course. Usually after that, the person’s post is taken down. For something on a larger scale, I would definitely contact a copyright lawyer on how to proceed.
What is your biggest copyright-related challenge?
My biggest challenge is struggling between my urge to share what I know to help others on social media and knowing that I run the risk of having my work reused without my knowledge. Part of what I love doing with my business is sharing every part of my process with others. I am always happy to answer any question about my creative process, techniques, the products I use, how I run my business, etc. I even post tutorial videos of my pieces because I enjoy helping others learn and achieve their artistic goals. In the end, if I can help someone skip all the struggling that I had to go through in getting to where I am now, then that is so fulfilling. Why not help a fellow artist?
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